Sunday, September 14, 2008

iPhone 2.1 - if only this was July...

I loaded my iPhone 3g with the new 2.1 software the moment it became available (well, not quite - but I did go home for lunch just so I could do the update).  Here's a quick take on what was broken before, and how it is now:

- Camera incredibly slow to load: Well, it's a little better, but still not as good as in the original software.

- Contacts app slow to load: Fixed.  At least for my 500ish address book.  Not quite instant, but comparable to 1.0.

- App Store downloading issues: I had to clean everything up manually, but now all is well and I can use the app store just fine from the device or the Mac.  Updates work OK now as well.

- 3g call quality: Improved.  Coverage is still a little weak near my home, but calls now transition from 3g to GSM legacy without a hitch most of the time.

- Battery life: Seems a little better.  Also should be better if you use ActiveSync - now you have the option to do a timed sync (before it was push or manual only).  I strongly suggest timed sync.

- Safari stability: About the same.  Speed is a little improved, though.

- Bluetooth issues: The big one was resolved.  You can now listen to voicemail through a Bluetooth headset again (in 2.0.x, only a few headsets could do that).  According to reports, it now works again with car BT systems that weren't working in 2.0 - though it was working OK with the system in my Honda anyhow.

- Still no Notes sync.  Bleh.

All in all, this is what Apple would have shipped in July if they could have.  Originally, they promised some goodies like turn-by-turn GPS support and a push service for 3rd party apps this month, but all the bugs in 2.0 turned their September focus to stability - and rightly so.  Ultimately this is a no-brainer update, though.  Hopefully the new functionality will deploy in the near future, as developers are already building for it.

I was talking about this with someone a couple of days ago - basically, if this had been the initial iPhone release people would have been astounded by how good it was.  The catch for Apple is that they've already set the bar with the initial iPhone.  Now it's all about meeting expectations.  iPhone 2007 redefined what people expect from a cellphone.  iPhone 3g is more, it's (now) better, but it's not the revolution its predecessor was.  Could be worse, though.  Apple could be in the shoes of the competition.